Scripting News for 5/3/2006

Apple’s new TV ads are great, incredibly irreverent and cleverly produced, and Macs are easier to connect than Windows machines, but the bit about PCs getting stuck is way off base. My Macs, even the super-high-end desktop machine, do exactly what they say the PCs do. Okay, I’m still using PowerPC Macs, but that’s all they sold when I bought these machines, less than a year ago. And that’s another thing not to like about Apple. They’re always making you feel stupid for having bought their latest and greatest. I’d like to see Microsoft fire back with ads of their own about Apple’s planned obsolescence and how much it costs, really, to keep up with them. You have to be rich to love Apple. PCs, even if the OS and apps are butt-ugly, and the viruses are just awful, are computers lots of people can afford, people who couldn’t afford Macs. And dollar for dollar, Windows machines perform better than Macs.  

Another one — the apps Apple bundles are marvels of lock-in. Try to get your data out of them. No no, says Uncle Steve. We own your ass. Or at least your data. 

And the ad about viruses is just plain STUPID. Man are they asking for it. What happens when users who bought Macs thinking they couldn’t get viruses all of a sudden are getting them. The Federal Trade Commission is going to love that. Can you spell Class Action Lawsuit? 

Meanwhile, here’s what I’ve been saying to people I see, so I might as well say it here. Microsoft better get it’s shit together soon. Apple and Google are clawing at them, and winning. I figure they have a year, maybe two, to start having some products that make sense on the net and the desktop; and offer the media stuff Apple does, and solve the malware problem (and also bake-in BitTorrent). They’re falling behind, seriously. It’s not about marketing budgets, Apple and Google have great piles of cash too. That used to be Microsoft’s security blanket. Not no mo. At the same time, one of these three companies might want to try to make some friends among the bloggers. It’s not in Microsoft’s DNA, Apple sues the bloggers to keep them from talking about them, and Google is the most arrogant self-absorbed company to hit Silicon Valley since Netscape. None of these companies do community marketing efficiently, and they all really need to be great at it.  

Mac OS Rumors: “Mac OS X 10.5 will include a system-level BitTorrent filesharing client that can be user-customized to donate upstream Internet bandwidth for things like pushing Software Update packages to Leopard users, delivering iTunes Store content.” 

Lifehacker: “Ponyfish lets you create an RSS feed for sites that have none.” 

NY Times: “Faulty evidence masquerading as science sent two men to death row for arson in Texas and led to the execution of one of them, a panel of private fire investigators concluded in a report released Tuesday in Austin.” 

This year’s Gnomedex, which I am participating in, will be an unconference. 

PubSub reading lists.  

It’s about BitTorrent 

On Sunday I talked about an idea and a project that would be good for the Internet, and now it’s time for the goodness to start. It’s also something for folks to talk about at the OnHollywood conference that’s starting today in southern California.

You’ve heard about Rocketboom, hopefully good things. They’ve been written up in all the major publications. They’re cool, and are making video entertainment and news work entirely in the context of the Internet. They aren’t a product of television making the transition, Rocketboom is entirely from the digital world.

Rocketboom has been distributing the daily show through BitTorrent, but not with much uptake, so far. What’s needed are more and better download clients that are tuned for BitTorrent distribution. It’s the ideal content for BitTorrent distribution, because there are a huge number of downloads all at once, at 9AM Eastern every weekday, when the new show is available.

So it’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing. When we met in April in NY, we talked about what can be done to drive more use of BitTorrent, in this non-infringing application, and arrived at an idea that we felt was worth trying. Produce a “best of” Rocketboom, a large download, and put it through the normal BitTorrent distribution system.

So here it is. A Mininova download of the Best of Rocketboom, a 659MB movie, ready to go. I’m downloading it now from one of my machines. They’re seeding it at Rocketboom headquarters. And you can help:

1. Download it yourself and enjoy the great Rocketboom entertainment experience.

2. Leave your copy up so you can help feed the distribution network.

3. Talk about it to your friends, write about it on your blog, if you’re at OnHollywood, tell the entertainment industry how the blogging world is moving forward using this technology in cool and entertaining ways. Tell them we’re having fun and the users love it. Tell them they’ll love it too, when they start distributing entertainment (with commercials if they want!) this way.

4. Think of new cool ways you can use BitTorrent to distribute entertaining podcasts that you create yourself for your friends and for the world. Let Rocketboom be a model for your creativity, a great Pied Piper that gives you ideas.

22 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Joost on May 3, 2006 at 7:35 am

    Happy Birthday Dave!!!!


  2. There is an interesting item today on newsvine about Apple’s possible bit-torrent inclusion.
    The writer speculates that part of motivation besides reducing bandwidth costs might be to bypass the premium fees that the telcos want to charge to content providers. By using customers as the content distribution network, even if verizon and at&t decide to throttle apple’s connection to customers, it will have little or no effect, especially if the torrent streams are encrypted.


  3. I’m in the Best-of-Rocketboom-Torrent-Loop now.

    Great tip!


  4. Posted by heavyboots on May 3, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Dave,

    I’ve only ever tried to get data out of iPhoto, Mail, and iTunes, but it is completely do-able.

    iPhoto – Just Save for Web as 100% jpegs. Shucks, it will even use your caption info, iirc.
    iTunes – Select any song, right-click and choose Reveal in Finder. Copy it, or go up a level and copy everything. (I will admit I am savvy enough to never save anything in AAC format though.)
    Mail – The individual messages all live in ~/Library/Mail. Or you can just select them all and choose Save As from mail to get one big .mbox style dump of that folder…

    Anyway, my point is that they’re really not THAT marvelous at lockin, imho. But perhaps you had a different iApp in mind?


  5. I agree with heavyboots. Aside from maybe DRMed music from iTunes Music Store, where else do you see Apple’s lock-in? Other Apple apps allow you to get your data out. It’s not locked in any silo.


  6. Posted by vanni on May 4, 2006 at 7:07 am

    Hi Dave – I have to agree with HeavyBoots. I have all my data..Steve’s got none of mine…not that he would want it. bad karma, and al that! Anyways keep on digging around in OS X and it will reveal its magic. Others could help you in discovering its inner beauty. You have have some legitimate beefs with apple, you have become so much more mellow post-cigies that perhaps it’s time to open up to cupertino a bit more. Yesterday on my windows machine, got two screens of blue death!!…rather than take one hour to do my job it took four. I too have periods where my mac _ occasionally _ hangs. That too is annoying. Fortunately it happens infrequently, but apple should fix it!.
    I have taken to bringing in my powerbook to work for those times that windows just “doesn’t cut the mustard” …on OS X I am way more productive. When it comes to working with WebDAV windows has problems, not so with OS X.
    (just now i did a spell check on this entry ..crtl click..easy..try that in windows)

    As far as viruses on the mac, please see Daring Fireball on that subject. Gruber is one fine writer to boot.

    As far as costs go. It’s like cars… I have never bought Chevy/Ford. I am way ahead looking for good Eurpopean/Japenese car bargains… Peugeot, Honda, Toyota. etc.

    I agree with you about MS. They are running scared and so they should be. I am pulling for Google and Apple to clean their clocks. They deserve it. I am not aware of any thing major that ever came from Microsoft, except for Word and Office, that i use daily in my computing activities. ( i actually only use Word infrequently ) but I use Google mail/calendar/ picassa all day long. I use on os x for all my mail.
    This is not an anti ms rant…. just a strong endorsement of my favorite platform and web services. Ciao!!
    (PS Dave thanks for all your fine posts over the years. You are amoung my daily blog fixes! )


  7. Posted by vanni on May 4, 2006 at 7:11 am

    …gee. now what about this…Microsoft may aim for Yahoo!

    like i said MS can only buy,borow, or steal.


  8. And don’t forget…whichever of the big 3 starts to pal around with Linden Labs may be able to corner a big share of the market, ur, future.


  9. Don’t know how you can actually save money using Windows. I always spent money to keep it running. Tech consultants, security experts and anti-virus apps are costing a fortune. Once a single box started costing 2x times the price and 100x the nerves I switched to Mac after using one at where I worked at the time.

    Now I save money and actually get stuff done.


  10. Yeah, actually apple is awfully good at adopting pre-existing standards for their iApp storage formats.

    iTunes: OPML (or easily parsable XML)
    Mail: mbox
    iCal: iCal format (predated iCal)
    iPhoto: stored as jpg, in directories

    Am I missing any?


  11. Posted by Michael Paul Gray Jr on May 4, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    Ok! First, I would like to say that this is my first posting here because Amanda (Rocketboom) recommended your blog. Secondly, I usually have nothing to voice when reading blogs, until today! Now, I noticed that this blog is for a Harvard law student. Right? It seems to me that a “law” student should be intelligent and certainly be educated on topics before writing about them. Right? Well, I am very disappointed with Amanda (whom I love dearly) with her recommendation. This blog on Apple’s ads is ludicrous. Since he ranted on and on about Apple then I shall rant!
    You need to learn more about what OS X can do first before you say what it can’t do! I have no problems or issues with any of my machines and one of them is 5 years old. The newest of them (a MacBook Pro) is awesome! As for this dollar for dollar spiel, if you want a good computer then get a good computer. If you were to compare a computer that best matches hardware to Apple then you would have to go with an Alienware. The last time I checked for an Alienware laptop it was over 5 grand. Now, my MacBook Pro only cost me $2300.00. Hmmm! Seems to me that the Apple is the better bargain, plus I get to use OS X. Believe me, I could go on and on ranting about OS X, and it does have it’s quirks. But I am so much happier with it than any of the PC’s I have ever owned or operated. Even if the system did crash occasionally, or if it suffered from a few viruses, I would still use it over Windows any day!
    So, with that said, what exactly was the article on? Oh yes, Apple’s ads. What did you actually say about the ads? Nothing? Hmmm! Well, I think they are simple yet genius. They represent everything I have been educating people on for years. Hopefully, those that are not completely brainwashed or retarded will see that there really is an affordable solution out there to their PC woes! The other thing you commented about was the ever changing Apple. Well thank god someone is always evolving and trying to make something better. Unlike some! I, for one, do not feel stupid or inadequate for buying my Mac’s. I can’t really afford much either living off of a military salary. My 5 year old iMac can still run the latest OS X and all of the software out there. Yes, it seems slower than my MacBook Pro, of course it is! That’s change and innovation!


    Is any of this sinking in? Well, if not, then it sucks to be you!


  12. […] Michael Paul Gray: “Is any of this sinking in? Well, if not, then it sucks to be you!”  […]


  13. Man, I do love zealots. Oh wait, no I don’t.

    I’m glad that when I do bring a Mac back into the house, it won’t be accompanied by a zealot. (It won’t, will it? Because if it is, I’m going to have to skip it).


  14. Posted by Robert Scoble on May 4, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    Michael: really? Several of my friends have MacBook Pros (they are popping up here at Microsoft like mushrooms after a long rain) but they don’t do anything spectacularly better than a Lenovo T60, which I can get for many hundreds less than a Mac.

    And that’s not the only choice. My wife loves the new Sony, that costs about $1,500. Dual Core and all that too.

    That said, I’m a geek, so can justify the extra expense, but many people can not.


  15. John Gruber has had his say to on the silo mentality over on Daring Fireball. He doesn’t understand you either, Dave.


  16. Posted by Darrell Moore on May 5, 2006 at 5:38 am

    I agree that the attitude of Mac lovers quite often turns off potential Windows converts. Its always called arrogance or smugness, and that vibe radiates from the commercials (which is my chief complaint against them). The ‘tude that comes from Mac zealots is earned: we love our machines and we feel a loyalty based on good service. The ‘tude that exudes from the current ads comes from an ad agency and a corporation willing to pay to air them — they don’t have a right to their smugness. I think Apple’s efforts to convert Windows users would be better served by addressing user’s fears about change than trying to continue piling up accolades about superiority. I think Windows people “get it” that Macs are supposed to be better than PCs; what they don’t get is why this mystery advantage is large enough to make them change from what they know or pay a premium price for that superiority. Mac users don’t understand what a powerful force inertia is, and the ads won’t push anyone over that chasm.


  17. Even though I have been a Mac user for many years, my work increasingly has been in the realm of linux. Recently when I was in the market for a new laptop, i heavily considered a traditional PC laptop running linux. So I shopped around – yes I could get a machine with roughly the same features for a bit less. Great I thought.

    So I setup my dev environment on a linux box to truly see the diffs in working in linux vs. MacOS X. After a week or two, it became very apparent that my productivity had decreased dramatically. Not because that I’m not completely comfortable in the linux environment but, I found myself constantly fiddling. Adjusting this, modifying that. I thought it would taper off but it didn’t. Now I’ll admit, a portion of that was due to the tools being different. While I could do the same job, it just took me longer – the ol’ two clicks vs. one thing. But a lot of the issues came from the OS getting in the way.

    I don’t feel windows is any different in this respect. I could just as easily work in the windows environment if I wanted. The reason I didn’t was the whole virus/spyware nonsense, bottom line. I already have a windows box for testing. Barely even used, it requires far more upkeep than either my Mac or linux boxen.

    So this little experiment taught me a bit of a lesson. Yes, the Macs do cost a bit more but, the payoff (for me anyway) was that I’m most productive in that environment. The OS didn’t get in the way and the tools are simply world class. Me being more productive more than made up for the diff in cost. So I bought another mac – only to have the macbook pro released mere weeks afterward. curses! So I agree on that one.

    I guess it all boils down to the tools you are most productive with. If you are a die-hard windows guy/gal, by all means use windows. Linux? sure, why not. In the end, at least in the work that I do, platforms don’t matter. I think Apple is now getting this – the product that I create matters most, which happens to be for the web. Microsoft for so long has beaten its chest about how great windows is, it forgot the whole reason why people use computers to begin with – to do work. Give me a secure environment and get out of the way already! And linux – I hate to say it, they are just trying to keep up with the rest of us, with OSS. A great goal but they’re targeting the wrong prize.


  18. Sure you can get a cheaper windows laptop. But if you want a laptop that runs Mac OS X and Windows?


  19. I watched all of the ads last night. I thought they were funny. As someone who bottle-fed his son while re-installing Windows NT, and then got the Cube one week before Mac OSX 10.0 came out, I liked the “restart” one best.

    There are a lot of nuances in the argument of which computer is better, but the ads — especially the virus ad, since I’ve tried to clean out a spyware virus on Windows — just struck me as basically true. And I had a little chuckle over each one, it wasn’t exactly the tone of the White House press correspondents roast, ya know?

    By the way, it’s no more than traditional for the Mac aficionado to issue a scorching flame from time to time. It doesn’t mean they’re a zealot. Since when does having an opinion — especially one you back up with six or eight facts and probably more where those come rom — mean that you’re a zealot? Helloo_oo_oo_oo_kitty!


  20. Well, others have really covered the “No, you’re not locked-in” piece so I’ll just summarize;

    AddressBook -> Anything that reads vCards (Outlook, ThunderBird, etc)
    iCal -> Anything that reads .ics (Outlook, Google, etc.)
    iPhoto -> Anything that reads JPEG (C’mon, they’re right there in the folder..:))
    iTunes -> Anything that reads MP3 (yeah, I know you ARE stuck with the AAC files)
    iDVD -> Yes, you are SOL.
    iMovie -> Anything that reads DV format.
    GarageBand -> Again, you’re stuck. On the other hand, what were you going to use?

    Having said this, I personally thought the ads were kinda…well..dorky. But kind of funny.

    It is nice, however, to see Apple actively trying to sell the Mac/Mac OS.

    As far as the virus thing goes; the last virus outbreak on the Mac was the QT autostart, which was a LONG time ago. You want Apple should just ignore that people are having to wipe windows systems just to clear off the viruses? Heck no, strike while you have the opening. I just had to clean off 900+ pieces of malware off a _print server_ last week. You bet that’s a selling point. For now.

    Personally, I want to see Apple do just well enough to scare the bejeezus out of MicroSoft. Then, with them and Linux fighting it out, we, the customer get cooler toys.


  21. Posted by Diego Barros on May 5, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    You have to be rich to love Apple? How come when talking about price people immediately talk about the MacBook Pro? Look at the iMac or Minis before complaining about the price. Sure, in comparison those are still more expensive than beige PC boxes, but a lot cheaper than a MacBook Pro. Don’t forget you’re getting a great package when you buy any Apple computer. Not just the machine, but also the software that comes with it, the operating system, known hardware. In the end, it’s always that you get what you pay for. You want to spend less to get a beige PC box or a Wintel laptop, then hey, go ahead. I can’t run OS X (not out of the box) and the Apple apps on the Lenovo. That’s a big plus for me and will pay Apple’s price for that package. Nice hardware, great OS and apps, regular updates to OS X (not waiting half a decade (and counting) for OS updates.

    Just like these “marvels of lock-in” you speak of, the part about costing a lot to keep up with Apple is greatly exaggerated. I can run the latest version of OS X on my old Pismo G3/400mhz Powerbook, same goes for an old blue iMac. I haven’t been “squeezed” by Apple to buy the latest and greatest. If this is about hankering for a MacBook Pro, and if someone can’t afford it, then that’s life. You’ll have to look elsewhere. But you can still afford a Mac.

    As for viruses, spyware, butt-ugly apps… I recently have had my brother and father start using computers, getting on the internet, etc. In hindsight I would have gotten them Macs. I wouldn’t have to continually run anti-virus, anti-spyware software. Get questions about why the firewall keeps popping up and is it okay to click Yes (or whatever) to what the firewall is asking. Not that I mind helping them, it’s just something they need not have to deal with.

    Macs just work and that’s part of the package you’re paying for.


  22. I think that the whole Windows vs Mac theology is based on comparing low end with high end machines. You can get a pretty PC that can be outrun by my toaster for around $200. You can’t get Macs at that price point and not with these specs.

    See here for comparison:

    It’s not all about the hardware though. You buy a Mac, any Mac and can start to create beautiful brochures, edit your HD home videos and create good looking and well compatible DVDs from them, record your music, do a podcast, share your photo library (and even plugging-in cameras just works!) online and organize your CD collection right out of the box. Windows doesn’t have any of this, at least not usable or working and not out of the box.

    So at the low cost of a Mac mini or an iMac you get all of that, for free. So once you buy all of that for your Windows machine, where do you end up? + frustrations because nothing works as easy as on a Mac. Frustration is in my world a huge price to pay for saving a few bucks.

    I’ve been there and I have to go there sometimes to test websites and it’s very dark and gloomy place to be that I avoid as much as I possibly can. Always a feeling like that spider’s lair in Lord of the Rings. “what will happen next? Will it eat my files? Will all my work be gone?”

    If you did visual fx or just basic video work or matte painting on Windows you know what I’m talking about. When you cut into the flesh, make sure you got a clean and sharp knife.


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